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PITTSBURGH — Now this was Bucco Bizarro at its best.
The Pittsburgh Pirates swiped three runs during Sunday’s 7-6 loss to the Mets when New York pitcher Taijuan Walker mistakenly batted a fair ball into foul territory. It prompted a wild argument in which Mets manager Luis Rojas was ejected.
With the bases loaded and one out in the first inning, Kevin Newman hit a dribbler down the third base line. The ball started out in foul territory, but then began spinning back toward the line.
Walker swooped in and swatted at the ball, trying to make contact while it was still in foul ground. But TV replays showed the ball was touching the chalk when Walker hit it, and plate umpire Jeremy Riggs correctly called it a fair ball.
The ball rolled toward the Pirates dugout and the Mets did not react to retrieve it as all three Pittsburgh runners took off and came around to score.
Walker said he tried to swat the ball into the dugout.
“Obviously, I thought it was foul,” Walker said. “It was so close. … I thought I flipped it in the dugout. I didn’t even realize it was still in play. It was just one of those plays that just happen. Crazy play.”
Walker was charged with an error on the play, while Newman was credited with a single and one RBI.
Rojas immediately ran out to argue the call and was quickly ejected. He said he wanted the umpires to conference to make sure the correct call was made, even though the play was not reviewable.
“I didn’t wake up this morning to get thrown out in the bottom of the first inning,” he said.
Walker, in his first outing since pitching in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, then walked pitcher JT Brubaker and was pulled from the game. He allowed six runs on four hit and four walks while recording just one out.
Walker said Rojas’ passionate defense helped the team get back into the game after a lackluster start.
“He was fired up for, sure, and I think that got the whole team fired up, to have our backs,” Walker said.
Walker’s gaffe contributed to the Pirates taking a 6-0 lead in the first inning. However, the Mets rallied behind Michael Conforto‘s two-run, ninth-inning homer to complete the comeback and salvage a rugged weekend at PNC Park.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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